Single-Sided? Double-Sided?

Today a reader sent me the following question:

Is there a reason why original contracts should be single-sided? Our Legal Department requires this.

I’ve never considered this issue. As time goes by, more people are signing contracts electronically, or just trading signature pages, but presumably paper copies of signed contracts currently still have a big role to play. I welcome your input on one-sided versus two-sided.

  • Mark Anderson

    Double-sided is fine from a legal standpoint (under English law, anyway).  There may be a practical issue – often when photocopying is done, people forget to copy both sides.  But nowadays, don’t we all scan documents and copy them by printing out the scan?

  • Chadwick Busk

    Contracts should not be printed on double-sided paper. The paper savings pales in comparison to the time and trouble it takes to contact a business client who sent me every other page of a contract because he forgot to copy or image both sides of the document. Or perhaps he never received both sides of the contract when it was executed, potentially resulting in bigger problems.  

  • Anonymous

    Double-sided is also harder to deal with for documents that are held together by staples, clips or bindings. It works if punched and filed, but otherwise it’s a huge pain to keep flipping from one side to the other – I always get my trainees to print drafts single-sided.

    Double sided is also a problem if you want people to just print the signature page and sign it – do they have to remember print the following page on the back as well?

    As someone who is generally quite environmentally friendly, this does pain me, but double-sided isn’t worth the trouble.

  • D. C. Toedt

    For signature and archival purposes, maybe print two- or four pages to a sheet, single-sided?  That’s easy to do with Adobe Reader, and I’ve done it with Microsoft Word 2010 also (but the latter might vary with the printer).  The text would be small, but most everyone will be reading it on the computer screen anyway. And in the event of litigation, the relevant language will be excerpted. 

    • Anonymous

      I like this idea in principle, though I would worry about getting different parties, signing in different locations, to print the pages as instructed – getting people to sign in the right place is hard enough. You would probably end up with different signatures on differently-printed pages.

      • D. C. Toedt

        @Westmorlandia:disqus :  Point taken. That could be solved by:1. saving the signature version as a PDF document, using Word 2010’s built-in Save As PDF facility;

        2. printing the hard-copy signature page(s) from the PDF and not from the Word document.

  • Junkm77

    Environmental reasons aside, I can’t stand double sided contracts.  They are a pain to flip through when reading, and it is common for the person copying or scanning them to forget the backside of each page.  If you are the one that needs to make a quick copy, it is much more of a pain.  I don’t want to start a debate, but I question the notion that using paper is bad for the environment.  Trees pull carbon from the air, and put it in solid form.  By responsible foresting, we can put the solid form to good use and allow a new tree to grow, pulling carbon from the air again.  

  • Kim K.

    Even the use of indelible ink has long-term document degradation effects… paper is like a sponge and absorbs ink; indelible or not, indelible ink just takes longer to soak in. Consequently, information written on two sides of a page will inevitable bleed onto the opposing side over time. Therefore, your double-sided documents become an illegible mess of absorbed ink and potential obliteration of information on either document side.